Players who trade virtual game items in South Korea could be fined up to 50 million South Korean Won (approximately $43,000) or face a five-year prison sentence. The South Korean government is taking steps to ban the trade of virtual items with a new law that will come into action later this year. The government is attempting to dissuade students from wasting their time, but it feels that virtual item trading can lead to teenage crime. The government is also planning to stop allowing companies to list in-game items as property or hand out gift cards for in game items. A statement referred back to the 2007 release of a title called Sea Story, which rewarded players with certificates. These were then exchanged or sold for cash and the government aims to stop a similar situation from occurring.
This law is being taken very seriously and a new police force is being set up to combat this major issue. Head of The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's content policy division, Kim Kap-soo, said that collecting items for commercial use is a "serious hindrance" to creating a "healthy game culture". The ministry said, “The main purpose of the games is for entertainment and should be used for academic and other good purposes.”
Diablo III actively encourages players to trade via the online auction house and it is unclear if regular trades, which do not benefit players commercially, will be clamped down upon. On the other hand, activities such as gold farming and botting will be under threat, although these practices were never encouraged by developers.